Around Leicester and Trafalgar Square
London Festival of Architecture 2008
(Photos © urban75, Wednesday 25th June 2008)
Leicester Square is named after Robert Sidney, 2nd Earl of Leicester, who bought himself four acres of St. Martin's Field back back in 1630, building himself a nice des res at the northern end five years later.
The greedy Lord tried to fence off what had previously been common land, and after parishioners appealed to King Charles I, he was ordered to keep Leicester Field (later Leicester Square) open to the public.
Once a very fashionable address, the square had become a venue for popular entertainments by the late 18th century, and by the 19th century had become the heart of the West End entertainment district.
A small park sites in the middle of the Square, with a 19th century statue of William Shakespeare in the centre, accompanied by busts of Sir Isaac Newton, Sir Joshua Reynolds, John Hunter and William Hogarth on each corner.
There's also a statue of film star and director Charlie Chaplin.
The northern side of the Square is dominated by street artists.
Now closed, Manzis in Leicester Street, WC2, was a much loved fish restaurant.
A plaque on the wall tells passers-by that Johann Strauss lodged at this address in 1838.
The excellent cheap'n'cheerful Prince Charles cinema, just off Leicester Square.
The half-demolished back of the 1962 Swiss Centre.
The building was originally designed to provide a showcase for Switzerland and hosted a Swiss bank and the Swiss National Tourist Board.
Predictably, it's going to be replaced by a pug-ugly glass and steel thing.
Swiss regional signs. I suspect that this landmark will soon disappear too.
Human billboard street advertiser. Because of its huge popularity with tourists, you'll always find human billboards scattered all around the square.
It's an old tradition dating back hundreds of years - check out our feature: London human billboards.
The original Empire Theatre opened with a production of 'Chilperic' which was a 'Grand Musical Spectacular' by Florimund Herve in 1884.
Just three years later it had been become 'The Empire Theatre of Varieties,' reverting back to The Empire Theatre in 1898 before finally closing and being demolished in January 1927.
The second Empire Theatre opened as a cinema in November 1928, although it still put on occasional ballet and dancing shows before closing in May 1961 after a 76 week run of 'Ben Hur.'
After a major reconstruction, the third incarnation of the Empire Theatre opened in December 1962, and now hosts a cinema and casino.
History of Empire Theatre
Swiss signs at night.
The 20 feet tall tower of the art deco Odeon Leicester Square, once the 'flagship' cinema of Oscar Deutsch's Odeon Theatres Ltd.
Built on the site of the Alhambra Theatre (1883-1936), the Odeon opened for business on 2nd November 1937, offering 2,116 seats - and all of them covered in mock leopard-skin!
History of Odeon, Leicester Square
The Cinema Haymarket, built as a theatre in 1927 as the Carlton.
Late evening, Leicester Square tube station.
Trafalgar Square at night.
A deserted Trafalgar Square and fountains.
The National Gallery, facing Trafalgar Square.
Solitary sitters, Trafalgar Square at night.
Looking north across Trafalgar Square to the National Gallery.
Tube entance, southern end of Trafalgar Square.
More photos and features:
» Trafalgar Square in the rain, 360º panorama
» A walk from from Trafalgar Sq to Leicester Sq
» Protest at Trafalgar Square
» Leicester Square at Christmas, 360º panorama
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